Social media ROI – the gain is real

social media roi

Tuesday November 17, 2015

By: Bart Levy

Business owners can be shortsighted when it comes to social media. They sometimes think it is a waste of money, that’s it’s only for B2C business, and who has the time, anyway? As a result they are missing out on a very cost-effective marketing channel. In 2012, Cisco Systems saved $1.5 BILLION over five months when they used social media to introduce a new Salesforce customer-interaction tool. That’s a big return on investment (ROI), even for a very big company.

Cisco has also learned the value of social media as a powerful broadcasting tool for messages the company wants to send about itself as a company, business partner and employer. In another Cisco campaign, they used only social channels to promote a new router and saved about $100,000.

Rob Petersen’s blog, BarnRaisers, cited 15 case studies, including Cisco and these tech companies:

  • Demandbase used a white paper, infographic, webinar, Slideshare and a live presentation to generate 1,700 leads and $1million in new business.
  • IBM created a social sales program for their inside sales team and trained them to nurture online relationships. It resulted in a 400% increase in sales.
  • RS Components, an electronic product distribution company, created a special hub for collaboration and engagement for Electronic Design Engineering. There’s a free tool store and a free design tool that was down loaded more than 60,000. The site gained 45,000 members in 12 months.

Need more? cited these statistics:

  • 77% of buyers say they are more likely to buy from a company whose CEO uses social media.
  • 82% of employees say they trust a company more when the CEO and leadership team communicate via social media. What’s the value of engaged employees to you and your company?
  • B2B companies with blogs generate 67% more leads per month than non-blogging companies.

The social self-help community

Instead of using social media just to promote your products and services, the higher use of social media is to engage with others, commenting and adding to discussions that someone else has started. It’s a great place to share expertise – your own and others. Many companies encourage all of their subject matter experts on staff to engage with customers and gently guiding customers’ problem-solving community. Social media does need to be monitored for negative comments. (Don’t remove those comments, by the way. You will gain far more credibility if you politely and helpfully respond online.)

An active online community around a product can also save valuable resources when users ping each other with questions and provide solutions instead of depending on your support desk. It has to be monitored, of course, to be sure the solutions suggested are accurate and to block the trolls. This community of users may even teach you something about your own product. I’d call that a win-win.

It’s worth it

According to LinkedIn, companies who use inbound and social marketing see a 2%-27% increase to their bottom line. It’s a pretty safe bet that these companies use outbound marketing – direct mail, advertising, sponsored events and more – as part of their marketing mix. They also devote substantial resources to their inbound marketing, but even with a lesser investment of time and resources, it’s hard to argue with the results.

Bart Levy is marketer in chief at Fast Forward Marketing Co., and a certified inbound marketer. You can reach her at 804.382.0594 or